The business intelligence (BI) market has changed dramatically in recent years, as mergers, the cloud and the rise of open source and lower-cost alternatives have shaken up the landscape (see Business Intelligence Vendors Wrestle with Mergers, the Cloud and Open Source).
Here are some of the top trends in business intelligence, some nicely aligned, while others are contradictory.
Business Intelligence Trends
1. Accessibility and Mobility: A big change in the land of BI is that a typical system can harness a front end as simple as a mobile device or Web browser. This gives users access when and where they need it to all the relevant, secure and trusted information so they can gain insight into how their organization is performing.
"It's no longer an IT-only domain," said Harriet Fryman, business unit executive at IBM Business Analytics.
2. Power to the People: Paul Sonderegger, chief strategist at Endeca, concurs. He sees the rise of more and more power BI tools for non-technical people. Instead of execs being beholden to a power user or IT staffer, they are now able to analyze, slice and dice on their own.
"Many BI tools are intended for sophisticated power users, but these users are only a small fraction of the decision-making population in a company," he said. "Today, almost every business user is expected to make informed decisions."
3. The Need for Speed: In-memory analytics is a relatively new but rapidly evolving field. Benefits include power and agility, greater speed and breadth of running "what if" scenarios, and putting large data sets into the hands of users in a manageable and easily navigated manner.
"We have really only seen the tip of the iceberg, and in-memory is an incredible enabler of co-innovation," said Jason Rose, senior director of BI solution marketing at SAP BusinessObjects. "In-memory will be a key differentiator in the market over the next several years."
4. Cloud BI: Cloud-based technologies represent a fundamental shift in how software applications are delivered. In the case of BI, this facilitates deeper insights and better decision making. Whether it's utilizing the cloud to perform dashboard publishing or providing author and edit functionality, cloud-based BI offers greater power and scalability coupled with an attractive business model.
"Client-side, cloud-based authoring will certainly be demanded by the marketplace, as will faster and more flexible self-service solutions powered by in-memory architectures," said John Callan, director of product marketing for TIBCO Software's Spotfire.
5. Search and BI Merge: Easy-to-use search and BI are converging as IT strives to give users all the information necessary to make daily business decisions, coupled with the ability to discover, explore and analyze. Forrester is calling this "agile BI," stating that BI applications have "to seamlessly and innately integrate any type of data and content and provide capabilities to do faceted type search versus traditional OLAP to analyze complex data structures with thousands of dimensions and complex hierarchies."
"This type of BI self-service for knowledge workers addresses multiple shortcomings of traditional BI applications," said Sonderegger. "Search capabilities, such as Endeca, that facilitate this type of self-service discovery on structured and unstructured content can empower users to ask and answer in-the-moment questions on any kind of information."